The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) of 2009 stipulates definite rules for those with disabilities and their right to access to airports and flights on airlines. The ACAA delineates exactly what information the airlines are required to give you. The airlines must also provide an array of services to such handicapped passengers under this law. Some, but not all of these are:
Accessibility to airline information and reservation services for the visually and hearing impaired, including text telephone (TTY) if it is also providing phone services of a similar nature to non-impaired customers. And they must respond in substantially the same time and manner that they would for any non-handicapped customers.
Impaired passengers have a right to access information at airports, but they must first notify the attending airline's personnel of their impairment, so such needs can be properly met. In this regard, foreign flights must also provide such information if they are flying to or from the United States. Among the items they must provide are ticketing information, schedule changes, gate assignments, baggage checking, flight check-in, and even if the passenger is being paged. Televisions at airports must have closed captioning. If you're visually impaired, bring your cane. It lets others know you have a sight problem. What's more, don't be afraid to ask questions.
Once on the plane, visually or hearing impaired passengers must notify the flight's personnel of this fact, and they are then entitled to receive any onboard information the other passengers may be receiving. This includes such diverse topics as flight safety, weather information at the flight's destination, baggage claims (where to go), connecting gate assignments and/or changes, emergencies, etc. Whatever the regular passengers are given in the way of information must be given to impaired passengers, as well.
Special Markings For The Visually Impaired Author, Poco a poco, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
With regard to an impaired person's service animal, as long as the flight is under eight hours, in most instances, the impaired can have their animal with them on the flight. If over eight hours, the passenger may be required to show that the animal does not have to relieve itself, or it can be done is such a way as not to cause any health or hygiene problems. Also, the animal cannot be situated in such a way that it blocks any area, especially the aisles. If this is the case, the airline must try to find another seat for the passenger and the animal where this is not a problem.
And in some instances, the airline may insist upon a safety assistant traveling with the person, because of the need to make sure the passenger is clearly informed of any emergency situations, and such other critical information. This may be the case for someone who is both visually and hearing impaired. However, if the airline insists upon this, they cannot make the passenger pay the cost for an assistant. The airline alone must carry the burden of any such costs. Also, all impaired passengers are entitled to assistance when moving around the interior of the airport, as well as embarking and debarking from flights, and moving about on board.
If Visually Impaired, Bring Your Cane Emijrp Commons Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Airlines must have a designated Complaint Resolution Officer in the airports and these officers are supposed to be experts in their field and have the authority to resolve any issues themselves. As a hearing or visually impaired passenger, you have the right to make complaints, and they should be dealt with by such a Complaint Resolution Officer. However, if they do not resolve any such problems, or the passenger feels less than satisfied with the type of resolution, they may call the U.S. Department of Transportation. It has a toll-free hotline for handicapped travelers. The hotline numbers are 1-800-778-4838 if you can use voice, or use 1-800-455-9880 if you need text telephone access (TTY). If you prefer to file a complaint later, please do so within the six-month period immediately following any such incident that causes the complaint.
Again, handicapped passengers have rights! Whether physically impaired with regard to walking, visual, or hearing, you have rights! And if your complaints aren't resolved, file them with the U.S. Department of Transportation. This helps not only you on future flights, but all impaired passengers, too. There is power in numbers. Use it!
So when it comes to traveling for the impaired, remember, under the new legislation, you have more rights than ever, and it seems everyone is set on enforcing them. That's the good news. However, being alone in an airport with an airline agent who is unresponsive or rude, can still happen on occasion. It can be traumatic for such a passenger. That's why it is all the more important to demand to see the Complaint Resolution Officer, and failing this, to call the U.S. Department of Transportation Hotline number(s) listed above in this article. And, it might also help very much to have a copy of the DHHCAN Airline Travel Action Guide 2009 whose website is also above listed (and below, under "References"). Having the actual paper in your hand can go a long way to getting recalcitrant airline personnel to listen to you. Or, at least, bring this article with you.
International Symbol For Hearing Impaired Public Domain, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
And don't be afraid or feel intimidated into not flying. This world belongs to all of us, not just some of us, and you have a right to go where you want to, impaired or not! So please, if you get nothing else from this article, get this much: You have a right to fly! You have rights in that regard! And nobody should infringe upon those rights or take them away from you!
And when it comes to your currency needs, remember Currate.com, the folks who bring you all this great and helpful information. At Currate.com, you will find images of over 180 of the world's currencies, a point-and-click to your destination Earth map, regularly updated currency exchange rates, and an online currency conversion calculator, so you will know exactly what that monetary exchange is costing you in your own currency. And don't forget that Currate.com also has features for those who have mobile phones with Internet browser capability. If your phone has enhanced features, go to http://currate.com/e.php. If you phone is not capable of such features, than try http://currate.com/m.php. Either way, with a mobile phone with Internet capability, you will always be just a few seconds away from all the information you need for regularly updated currency exchange rates for just about anywhere!
So for all travelers, whether physically impaired or not, Currate.com performs a great service when it comes to giving information about various currencies. The best part? It's all free, a service designed specifically for travelers, physically impaired or otherwise, and available to all!
Air Carrier Access Act
Overview Of The Air Carrier Access Act
Aviation Consumer Protection And Enforcement
AIR CARRIER ACCESS ACT OF 1986 As Amended Effective May 13, 2009
http://www.state.hi.us/health/dcab/factsheets/AIR CARRIER ACCESS ACT.pdf
DHHCAN Airline Travel Action Guide 2009 Summary PDF File